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L'après-midi d'un faune

Numeridanse 2009 - Director : Roussillon, François

Choreographer(s) : Nijinsky, Vaslav (Russian Federation)

Present in collection(s): Numeridanse

Video producer : François Roussillon et associés

en fr

L'après-midi d'un faune

Numeridanse 2009 - Director : Roussillon, François

Choreographer(s) : Nijinsky, Vaslav (Russian Federation)

Present in collection(s): Numeridanse

Video producer : François Roussillon et associés

en fr

L'après-midi d'un faune

Few ballets have enjoyed as sensational a first night as The Afternoon of a Faun  by the Ballets Russes at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, to music by  Debussy with scenery and costumes by the Russian painter Léon Bakst. The  ballet was choreographed and dominated by the 22-year-old Vaslav  Nijinsky, who took the leading role of the amorous faun pursuing a group  of shy, but delicious, nymphs who are on their way to a nearby lake. It  broke electrifyingly with tradition and most of the other dancers did  not enjoy it. Nijinsky would not let them act and told them: ‘It is all  in the choreography.’ The production has been described as an attempt to  fashion ‘a new language of movement’ and it heralded the modern era in  ballet.

Nijinsky’s dancing was both supremely graceful and staggeringly  spectacular (Dame Marie Rambert once said she did not know how high his  leaps were, but they were all ‘near the stars’) and the short  performance, with only about 11 minutes of dancing, was designed to  resemble scenes from Ancient Greek vase paintings. At the same time it  was intensely erotic and culminated in an orgasmic scene, with the faun  making love to a scarf that the most desirable nymph had dropped as she  ran away. One of the female dancers described Nijinsky’s movements as  ‘virile and powerful’ and his way with the nymph’s scarf as ‘so animal’.

Not surprisingly the performance caused an uproar. Le Figaro  condemned ‘vile movements of erotic bestiality and gestures of heavy  shamelessness’ and the police were brought in for the second  performance, which sold out. The ballet stayed in the repertoire for  only a few years and was not resurrected until the 1980s. By that time  Nijinsky was dead. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, he spent long periods  in mental hospitals and died in London in 1950 at the age of 60. Rudolf  Nureyev remarked years afterwards that the faun in L’après-midi was his favourite role in all ballet.


Source: Ballet History

Nijinsky, Vaslav

Nijinsky was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer of Polish descent. Nijinsky was one of the most gifted male dancers in history.  His ability to perform seemingly gravity-defying leaps was legendary.  Nijinsky was born in Kiev, Ukraine, son of Polish dancers Tomasz Niżyński and Eleonora Bereda. In 1900, he joined the Imperial Ballet School, where he studied under Enrico Cecchetti, and Nicholas Legat.  At only 18 years old he was given a string of leads. In 1910, a fellow Imperial Ballet dancer, Mathilde Kschessinskaya, selected Nijinsky to dance in a revival of Marius Petipa's Le Talisman, during which Nijinsky created a sensation in the role of the Wind God Vayou.


Nijinsky met Sergei Diaghilev, a celebrated and highly innovative producer of ballet and opera as well as art exhibitions, who concentrated on promoting Russian visual and musical art particularly in Paris.  In 1909, Diaghilev took his dance company, the Ballets Russes, to Paris, with Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova as the leads. The show was a huge success.   Nijinsky's talent showed in Fokine's pieces such as Le Pavillon d'Armide, Cleopatra and The Feast.  His partnership with Tamara Karsavina, also of the Mariinsky Theatre, was legendary, and they have been called the "most exemplary artists of the time".


Then, Nijinsky went back to the Mariinsky Theatre, but was dismissed for appearing on-stage during a performance as Albrecht in Giselle wearing tights without the modesty trunks, obligatory for male dancers in the company. The Dowager Empress, Maria Feodorovna, complained that his appearance was obscene, and he was dismissed. It is probable that Diaghilev arranged the scandal, in order that Nijinsky could be free to appear with his company in the west, where many of his projects now centered around him. He danced lead roles in Fokine's new productions Le Spectre de la Rose, and Igor Stravinsky's Petrouchka, in which his impersonation of a dancing but lifeless puppet was widely admired.


Nijinsky took the creative reins and choreographed ballets. His ballets were L'après-midi d'un faune (The Afternoon of a Faun, based on Claude Debussy's Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune) (1912), Jeux (1913), Till Eulenspiegel (1916) and Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring, with music by Igor Stravinsky) (1913). Nijinsky created choreography that exceeded the limits of traditional ballet and propriety. For the first time, his audiences were experiencing the futuristic, new direction of modern dance. The radically angular movements expressed the heart of Stravinsky's radically modern scores. Nijinsky's new trends in dance caused a riotous reaction at the Théâtre de Champs-Elysées when they premiered in Paris.


In 1913, Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes toured South America. Diaghilev did not make this fateful journey, because he was told by a fortune teller in his younger days, that he would die on the ocean if he ever sailed. Without his mentor's supervision, Nijinsky entered into a relationship with Romola Pulszky, a Hungarian countess. An ardent fan of Nijinsky, she booked passage on board a ship that Nijinsky was due to travel on, and during the voyage Romola succeeded in engaging his affections.  They were married in Buenos Aires when the company returned to Europe. Diaghilev is reported to have flown into a rage, culminating in Nijinsky's dismissal. Nijinsky tried in vain to create his own troupe, but a crucial London engagement failed due to administrative problems.


During World War I, Nijinsky was interned in Hungary. Diaghilev succeeded in getting Nijinsky out for the American tour in 1916. During this time, Nijinsky choreographed and danced the leading role in Till Eulenspiegel. However, it was around this time in his life that signs of his dementia praecox were becoming apparent to members of the company.


Nijinsky had a nervous breakdown in 1919, and his career effectively ended. He was diagnosed with schizophrenia and taken to Switzerland by his wife, where psychiatrist treated him unsuccessfully, Eugene Bleuler. He spent the rest of his life in and out of psychiatric hospitals and asylums. Nijinsky died in a London clinic on April 8, 1950 and was buried in London until 1953 when his body was moved to Cimetière de Montmartre.  The tombstone of Vaslav Nijinsky is in Cimetière de Montmartre in Paris. The statue, donated by Serge Lifar, shows Nijinsky as the puppet Petrouchka.


While immortalized in numerous still photographs, no film exists of Nijinsky dancing. Diaghilev never allowed the Ballets Russes to be filmed. He felt that the quality of film at the time could never capture the artistry of his dancers and that the reputation of the company would suffer if people saw it only in short jerky films.


Source : Russian ballet’s historical website


More information : 

http://www.russianballethistory.com

Roussillon, François

François Roussillon is a producer and director of musical programs. More than 1,000 hours of programs have been produced by the company he founded: FRA Productions. In 2009, the production company created its own video publishing label, FRA Musica. With more than 10,000 copies of DVDs and Blu-rays sold, his first title Dido and Aeneas is a great success acclaimed by critics.


Source: FRA

More information: https://www.fraprod.fr/

Ballets Russes

The Ballets Russes was an itinerant ballet company based in Paris that performed between 1909 and 1929 throughout  Europe and on tours to North and South America. The company never  performed in Russia, where the Revolution disrupted society. After its initial Paris season, the company had no formal ties there.

Originally conceived by impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the Ballets Russes is widely regarded as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century,  in part because it promoted ground-breaking artistic collaborations  among young choreographers, composers, designers, and dancers, all at the forefront of their several fields. Diaghilev commissioned works from  composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, and Sergei Prokofiev, artists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Alexandre Benois, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse, and costume designers Léon Bakst and Coco Chanel. 

The company's productions created a huge sensation, completely  reinvigorating the art of performing dance, bringing many visual artists  to public attention, and significantly affecting the course of musical  composition. It also introduced European and American audiences to  tales, music, and design motifs drawn from Russian folklore. The influence of the Ballets Russes lasts to the present day.

Ballet de l'Opéra national de Paris

The Paris Opéra Ballet is the official ballet company of the Opéra national de Paris, otherwise known as the Palais Garnier, though known more popularly simply as the Paris Opéra. Its origins can be traced back to 1661 with the foundation of the Académie Royale de Danse and the Le Ballet de l'Opéra in 1713 by King Louis XIV of France.

The aim of the Académie Royale de Danse was to reestablish the perfection of dance. In the late seventeenth century, using 13  professional dancers to drive the academy, the Paris Opéra Ballet  successfully transformed ballet from court entertainment to a  professional performance art for the masses. It later gave birth to the  Romantic Ballet, the classical form of ballet known throughout the world. The Paris Opéra Ballet dominated European  ballet throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and  remains a leading institution in the art of ballet today.


Source: New World Encyclopedia

L'après-midi d'un faune

Choreography : Vaslav Nijinski

Interpretation : Ballets du Rhin

Original music : Claude Debussy - Prélude à l'Après-midi d'un faune

Costumes : Léon Bakst

Settings : Léon Bakst

Production / Coproduction of the video work : François Roussillon et associés

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